The monthly Stainless MMI® registered a value of 64 in August, a decrease of 5.9% from 68 in July and another all-time low in this month where all but one index we track fell to, what we hope, is a new bottom.
Ever since nickel broke a key support level back in March prices have done nothing but free fall, putting nickel at its lowest level since 2009.
Not only nickel but aluminum, copper and tin have also fallen to levels not since 2009. No one can deny the strong relationship among industrial metal prices.
What a Difference a Year Makes
Just about a year ago, nickel miners were rubbing their hands in glee, expecting that the Indonesian export ban would put the market in deficit. However, Philippine suppliers have taken up the shortfall. Moreover, a strong dollar, record nickel stockpiles and weaker than expected demand from China helped in the decline.
The slump in prices now has nickel miners rethinking output. Australian miner Mincor Resources said in July that it will reduce production by 56% during the second half, as its operations can't be sustained at current price levels.
Poseidon Nickel, another Australian miner also gave in after saying that its Lake Johnson mine would be put into care and maintenance.
Many are arguing that prices will rise since they are below producers' costs, however, we have previously pointed out that production costs do not determine prices, investors do.
What This Means for Stainless Steel Buyers
We recommend our readers be careful when fishing for a price bottom based on production costs. With commodity prices falling across the board, and weak demand from key consumer China, we might see a few more closures before the upside comes.
The Stainless MMI® collects and weights 14 global stainless steel and raw material price points to provide a unique view into stainless steel price trends over a 30-day period. For more information on the Stainless MMI®, how it's calculated or how your company can use the index, please drop us a note at: info (at) agmetalminer (dot) com.